We took the train up. Stacked high with provisions we embarked, slightly relieved about completing a small but hectic dash to the train station, as torrential rains furiously lashed the city we were leaving — 11 Saigonites in two overloaded taxis.
Stowing our luggage and settling into bunks, our train lurched forward violently before settling in to a rhythmic side-to-side rocking. Rainwater sloshed on the steel carriage floor and, if the windows were round, our journey could have been mistaken for one over turbulent seas instead of a twisting track.
Beer sloshed in near empty 333 cans, as smouldering cigarette ends were tossed out into the wet night. Whiskey and conversation were imbibed restlessly. Hour by hour, one by one, each traveller retired to their cabin until only night owls and the foolish remained.
7am and a gentle voice lifted me from my solid sleep. That was the last gentle concession I would have, as morning in Nha Trang would prove to be a pirate-like hijacking of my deserved hangover. Bloody Marys and runny eggs culminated in a lengthy separate check debacle that, we all concluded, for the remainder of the adventure we would avoid.
We refueled with towers of passion fruit ale and extra-large mushroom pizzas. Bottles of sunscreen emptied as we battled the blazing sun. Soon the trade winds of our endeavour took hold and our movements became regular: pool, ocean, food and drink.
Sticking together was a fruitless struggle. The group fractured and split as the day proceeded between the die-hards and the hard going. We decided to reconvene over dinner, where, unknown to us then, we would hatch our dastardly plan for the night. The tension at the table rivaled a highly tuned piano string, mid-strike. An impromptu pub crawl began at once.
Five Stations of Memory Loss
Five bars, one drink each, take no prisoners. Simple and clear as inebriated mandates must be for any sort of accomplishment to be possible. Our extremely delicious meal at Nha Trang staple Lanterns (34/6 Nguyen Thien Thuat) set our stomachs on full and our direction down Nguyen Thien Thuat. As hours passed our group laid waste to each successive house of refreshment.
Soon the whole of our crew made it to the beach, our mayhem only just beginning. After successive libations over the course of the day, our carefree attitude began to take shape. And this is where I’ll let my erstwhile companions Shoulders T and Empty Pockets end this tale.
Word: So, what happened at The Bar That Shall Remain Nameless?
Shoulders T: It wasn’t spectacular, but a bit of over-reacting, really.
Empty Pockets: You provoked them more than one time.
Shoulders T: Just a bit of fun really.
Empty Pockets: Granted, hoisting people on your shoulders is one thing. Pissing off huge security guards is another.
Shoulders T: By my thinking, if they were really angry, they wouldn’t have let us back in after carrying us out onto the beach.
Word: That’s true. It looked hard to explain the situation due to language barriers. It seemed like you and the guards were able to communicate well?
Shoulders T: Our communication was fine, really. He said ‘No Fun,’ I laughed.
Empty Pockets: And then danced on a plastic chair with a Travolta-esque Vietnamese man in the middle of the dance floor.
Shoulders T: Haha, as I said our communication was fine.
Our night continued on, through broken bottles cutting feet, ethereal flaming sambuca shots, theft by a groping lady of the night, mistaken ‘tea’ purchasing, beach-side crooning on an abandoned catamaran and finally freshly cooked pizza from a small late-night banh mi cart.
As the wee hours ticked by, and the sun, still hidden by the horizon, heated the morning cool, we retired all at once to our respective hotel rooms. Our story was to be recounted and embellished for days to come, as an oral tale is until written down. The title, we all agreed, would not be ‘No fun!’ — Seamus Butler